The Pagani Zonda C12S was the car that redefined the slumbering supercar market in the beginning of the 2000′s. The first Zonda (the C12) was introduced in 1999 but it was really the 2000 C12S that changed the game and the F that through some small visual alterations tied together the entire package. Pagani was the first in the new era of boutique super car makers and was considered the new benchmark from day one. The Zonda had a couple of unique selling points, it was way faster than anything else on sale and the styling was out of this world. The small fact that the quality and craftmanship was also up to par didn’t hurt either.
The heart of the F is a 7.3l V12 engine from AMG producing close to 600 hp, but more interesting is the extensive use of carbon fibre. Horacio Pagani started out as a composite consultant in Modena, Italy and later formed two companies, a design and engineering firm (Modena Design) and a composite material business (Pagani Composite Research), with these operations in place he had the foundation to create what he always wanted to do, to create his own car.
Just like Steve Jobs is the God of Apple Horacio is the sole ruler of Pagani-land. He’s the cheif engineer, stylist, pr manager and executive officer for Pagani Automobili. The Zonda is his vision, it’s what happens when one persons dreams are unrestricted by commitees, price points and target demographic surveys. Incredible machinery, just like art and especially when they combine, will find its buyers regardless of price.
The chassis is made from a central carbon fibre tub that connects to front and rear chromoly subframes. All of the body panels are also made from carbon composites which keeps the weight down to 1230kg. The engineering and packaging is exemplary, one example is the triangulation of the engine bay which helps with the torsional rigidity of the chassis. It’s a little to cab-forward and the rear haunches are a little flat for top design scores in my book, but I think that the cleaner lines of the F versus the C12S is a nice step in the right direction. It’s still amazing though and no one that sees it will be left untouched and wondering whether it’s something special or not. It packs all of the drama and excitement of the old-school supercars while being modern and an instant classic, only minor details have changed since the Zonda was introduced ten years ago and it doesn’t look the least dated.
The package is simply a mean to an end though, time and time again Pagani has shown that it’s one of the fastest cars ever made around a track. Various Zondas have set a number of records around the Nürburgring, the F Clubsport became the fastest production car in September 2007 (not counting the Radical SR8 which is more of a road legal race car) and in June 2010 the track-only R set the record for non-road legal cars.
The pièce de résistance is, in my opinion, the interior. It’s steampunk, retro, classy, luxurious, modern and ready to race at the same time. The bare carbon and metal is a clear reference to the lightweight, race car nature of the car and very nice contrast to the leather. The difference in this vehicle to most others is that the carbon really is the structural element where it’s shown, covering it would only add weight. The attention to detail is staggering, the carbon ventilation scoops, the strap to the glove box, the quilted leather, the instrument cluster, the wheel… I could go on forever, it’s another world in there. One where craftmanship and being true to the materials is the ultimate expression. Not designing for a computer screen.
The Zonda F wasn’t cheap when it was produced (only 25 coupés and 25 roadsters were manufactured). It was sold as new for around €478,000 but like all other Paganis it has appreciated in value and now fetches over €1m on the open market. Thank you for the Zonda C12 and all its incarnations, Mr Pagani. I can’t wait to see what you dream up next.